By Brett Tyndall
Oklahoma Christian junior Jaxon Dowell defeated sophomore Drew Goodman from Christian Heritage in a one-hole playoff after each player posted 8-under 202 through three rounds of the Class 3A State Championship at Tulsa Country Club Tuesday.
Goodman three-putted on the first green, which allowed Dowell to take the individual title with a par. Goodman created a buzz around the course Monday after a 7-under 63 in the first round.
“It was fun just to make it into a playoff, but to cap it off on top of that was special,” Dowell said.
Four shots off the lead of Goodman heading into the final round, Dowell shot a 4-under 66 to Goodman’s even-par 70, forcing the sudden death playoff. One factor for his good play on Tuesday may have been the comfortable group pairing, as he played with good friend J.P. Roller, a junior from Regent Prep.
“Playing with J.P. was awesome. With all the nerves surrounding the day, it was fun to play with someone I know well. It helped calm my nerves.”
Defending champion Oklahoma Christian finished second as a team, eight shots behind Regent. Dowell conceded that he wished the team result was better, but he was proud of the way his team handled adversity throughout the season and offered his congratulations to Regent.
Regent won the 2A title last year before winning again in 3A, a tournament it hosted this year. Coach Maggie Roller attributed the team’s success this week toGrant Benjamin, who shot 72-70 in the first two rounds before finishing sixth after a final-round 81.
“J.P. and Jackson (White) are the anchors of the team,” Maggie said, “so I knew the third and fourth bags were going to be pivotal for us. Grant texted me last week and said ‘we’re gonna win this thing’, so there was that fire in his eyes that I hadn’t really seen before and he gave us that spark we needed when he put those two rounds together yesterday.”
White shot three consecutive rounds of 69 to finish third individually at 207. Roller finished with a 72 Tuesday to finish fourth at 210.
Maggie and the rest of the team had watched Oklahoma Christian beat them by double-digits all season, so she admitted that they were gunning for them this week.
“OCS is the best team in the state,” Roller said. “They’re better than all of the 6A schools, they’ve beaten them all year. So we were gunning for them all year and I kept telling the boys ‘All that matters is state’, a message that my husband (Bill Roller) coached for 27 years on. All that matters is state, play for one another, and play for something higher than yourselves. That was our motto.”
This title was extra special for Maggie as she had her first senior go through the program. White was the only member of the Regent boys golf team just three years ago. During his freshman year, it would be just Maggie and Jackson travelling to tournaments across the state.
“That time really allowed us to bond. Today was emotional for us. He got offered a scholarship to go play golf and he turned it down, so it was emotional. He hit this great shot to five feet from the trees on 18, and I could see him crying when he made the putt. So he was crying, I was crying, it was a mess.”
That the tournament was held at prestigious Tulsa Country Club was a testament to Roller and her team, although it was not their home course as some teams wondered, they play at LaFortune Park and South Lakes. The players raised $1,000 by volunteering at the Oklahoma Golf Expo and that was used to lower the costs of practice rounds for all teams. Roller raised an additional $4,500 through title and hole sponsorships which went toward making it a first-class event for the teams and players.